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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (23 November) . . Page.. 2472..


MR WHITECROSS (continuing):

to be cut from $7.2m to $6.1m - a cut of $1.1m. If they have misled the community by publishing a set of budget papers that are wrong, then they have taken a long time to come around to telling us the true story. If that is the true story, Mr De Domenico and Mrs Carnell would do well to table all the relevant documents so that we can see what it is.

What I do know is that there were 12 temporary staff employed in the libraries on 1 July. By the end of this month none of those 12 temporary staff will be employed in the Library Service. That does not sound to me like a cut of $150,000; that sounds like a much more substantial cut. We have seen the acquisitions budget for the public library service cut from something like $920,000 to $750,000. That is more than $150,000 on its own. According to the calculations I have seen, that is something in the vicinity of 11,000 fewer volumes, based on the comparison of last year's prices and this year's prices of books, which is about 10 per cent different.

I do not see how the Government can possibly sustain the position that this is only a $150,000 cut, and I do not think they do their cause any justice at all by suggesting that the library budget has not been cut. Mrs Carnell might want to say, "We think the library budget has been running over in previous years", and so be it; I do not know the history of that. What I do know is that last year we had $7.2m of services, between the public library and the government library, and this year we have $6.1m, which is $1.1m less, whichever way you do your arithmetic. They ought to stick to reality in relation to that item.

I repeat what I said before in relation to this appropriation for the functions that are covered by Urban Services. What we are seeing here is a significant cut in services in a range of places, cuts in the involvement of the public sector, with work being pushed off to the private sector, and an abrogation of their role as a trainer of young workers in a range of areas. We see a shift in the operation of the Survey Office from a non-commercialised operation to a fully commercialised operation, open to competition by 1 July next year. That is an extremely rapid turnaround, with no proper safeguards to ensure that, when the clients are untied on 1 July and when they are given the money on 1 July, the ACT Survey Office will be in a proper position to compete.

We were given assurances by the department and the Minister in the Estimates Committee, but when we get to see the Government's formal reply we find that all those assurances we were given in the Estimates Committee are out the window and what is said in the budget papers - - - (Quorum formed) We have seen an increase in user pays, and we have seen these changes made, whether to ACT Fleet, to waste management, to taxi regulation, or to libraries, without any evaluation, without any forward planning, without developing strategies such as the waste management strategy or awaiting the outcomes of reviews such as the review into taxi regulation. As Mr De Domenico told us in the Estimates Committee, "The way we make decisions in government is without any evaluation. That is the way we make decisions in government, and when you have been around a bit longer, Mr Whitecross, you will understand that that is the way we make decisions - without any evaluation, without any strategy, without any forward planning. We just make them".


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